Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sustaining a Revolution

          At this moment, all across America, there is a revolution going on. If you don’t

believe it, just ask anyone wearing a hat, shirt or button bearing the name Bernie

Sanders. What they’re calling a revolution is really more like a revolt against the

super-rich who call the shots in America’s version of democracy, which is really

nothing of the sort. At worst, America is a fascist nation; at best, it operates under a

sort of pseudo-socialism where the middle class supports the poor and the rich bear

no responsibility to anyone.

          Makes sense to stage a revolution, right? It’s not fair for one percent of a country’s

population to hold 90 percent of the nation’s wealth, especially when that came

about because they bought the necessary lawmakers to assure that it would.

Problem is, it’s not really a revolution. Not really. The masses who are turning out to

cheer on Sanders are supporting just one man, and that man can’t possibly bring

about any substantial change to the status quo in Washington D.C. no matter what

he does. Just ask Barack Obama.

           We witnessed a similar phenomenon when Obama began his campaign to be

President by talking about changing Washington in most of the same ways that

Sanders is now igniting crowds by discussing. Now we are in Obama’s final year as

President, and while the tone and manor of the presidency is blissfully different

from the George W. Bush years, nothing has changed substantially.

          The rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, campaign finance

continues to be little more than the outright purchase of elected officials by the

uber-rich, we continue to allow industries to pollute at will and push the planet

closer and closer to a condition that will not sustain human life . . .and on and on.

          It takes more than one man . . .one person . . .to bring about any substantial

change, no matter how popular that person might be.

          It’s going to take a coalition to change Washington and the status quo of

American politics. It’s going to take a team of leaders running for Senate and

House seats in conjunction with a visionary leader like Obama or Sanders to

spearhead the effort from the only podium everyone really pays attention to: the

presidential candidate podium.

          What it’s going to take to bring back the American dream of equal

opportunity for all and a truer version of democracy is a coalition not unlike the

Marvel Superhero Avengers or the DC Comics Justice League. It takes an entire

team espousing the values Bernie Sanders embrace, the most important of which

is arguably campaign finance reform. After all, if our elected officials answer to large

corporations instead of the people who elected them, what we have is not a democracy

but the textbook definition of fascism.

          The presidential platform is interesting, and the person elected certainly wields a

great deal of power over a wide range of areas. The power to change the way

Washington politics works, however, can only be claimed by a large coalition of like-

minded candidates who work together to bring about such change.

          For that kind of coalition to come about, it’s going to take a huge majority of people

who don’t just attend rallies for volunteer in droves for presidential candidates. It’s

going to take a movement that encompasses all elections, from local lawmakers to

national and everything in between. It’s going to take sustained energy, passion and

enthusiasm across a the country, a movement that works tirelessly all year every

year for America to really evolve beyond the corporate fascism that has wound its

roots around and throughout the entire political system.

          Until that happens, people like Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama will continue to

inspire millions but fall well short of their ambitious goals.

          What can those who consider themselves to be part of the Sanders revolution do?

First and foremost, they have to vote. Being excited and attending rallies is cool, but if

you don't bother to show up at the ballot box you might as well have been sitting at home

watching reality TV and sucking down a margarita. Second, be sure the candidates you're

voting for represent - or at least claim to represent the same standards that make you

excited about Bernie. Finally, once you vote, hold those representatives accountable by

following their actions taken on your behalf. When they deviate from the path they promised

while campaigning, call and/or email their offices and demand to know why they deviated.

          It's not enough to start a revolution; you have to participate and see it through

to the very end.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Trumping the Republican Agenda

For the past decade or so the Republican Party has been working hard to procure permanent Republican districts all around the United States. No, they haven’t been doing it in the traditional way, which involves listening to constituents, educating them on the tough issues and thereby gaining their trust and their votes. Instead Republicans have been gerrymandering districts to slice up blue areas and lump them in with predominantly red areas, and when that hasn’t worked they have targeted demographics that typically vote Democratic and made it as difficult as possible for them to vote.

Republicans have worked hard to prevent college students from being able to utilize absentee ballots while away at college. They have also passed bills that disallow student IDs as valid forms of identification. One New Hampshire lawmaker – State House leader Bill O’Brien – was even caught on tape admitting that his bill that would have banned out-of-state students from voting was designed specifically to stop students from “basically doing what I did when I was a kid: voting as a liberal.”

The GOP has also been working to prevent the poor – who benefit the most from Democratic policies – from voting. They generally do it under the banner of preventing voter fraud, but by requiring a valid driver’s license they do not impact illegal votes nearly as much as they do the poor, many of whom cannot afford to own a car and therefore do not need a driver’s license. To make matters worse, they have also made a habit of closing voting locations in poorer areas, meaning people without cars have a harder time getting to their ballot boxes.

For the record, in the last presidential election illegal immigrants attempting to vote comprised less than one-hundredth of one percent of the votes cast. The real issue is not prohibiting illegal residents from voting; the real issue is trying to find ways to keep Democratic bases from casting votes.

Considering the great lengths the GOP went to as they attempted to prevent Barrack Obama from being elected President of the United States, it’s astounding that Obama is finishing up his second term in the job.

This time around the same machinery that worked tirelessly to prevent an Obama presidency is in high gear trying to prevent his heir apparent – Bernie Sanders – from taking a turn in the Oval Office. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, their strategy may well backfire on them this time.

Sanders has an even more Progressive agenda than Obama, and Wall Street executives are busier than ever writing checks and holding fundraisers for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to try and combat the movement that is powering Sanders’ campaign. Trouble is, the Republicans have not put forward a candidate that excites the base that their party has spent so much time chiseling out for themselves. Conservative Christians aren’t interested in the morally reckless Trump, and the one-issue voters can’t find themselves in his contradictory rhetoric, either. I have some friends who only vote based on one issue and they say they would rather not vote than cast a ballot in support of Trump.

That got me thinking.

When asked about how he would advance his Progressive agenda with a Congress that does nothing but block anything and everything the President attempts to accomplish, he points out that if he is elected President it will mean that a massive groundswell of Progressive voters have shown up. It’s reasonable to believe, then, that the makeup of Congress will have also shifted to support that same agenda.

It can only help that the typical one-issue voters, who invariably vote for the Republican ticket, are thinking about staying home on Election Day. It may be that none of the right wing’s voter suppression measures are as effective in keeping voters away as their own choice for Republican nominee.

The most honest way to run for President of the United States is to stand before your audience, state your vision for the country and explain why your vision is the best and how you plan to implement it. This way of running for President is so rare that many of you scoffed at the seeming naïveté of that statement. It’s rare for a political candidate to stand before crowds of people with different backgrounds and make the case for the same agenda day after day, but in the Presidential Election of 2016, much as in 2008 and 2012, there is such a candidate.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t change his tune, and his vision for America is consistent with the Progressive agenda he has fought for throughout his run as the longest-tenured Independent in U.S. congressional history. There is absolutely no ambiguity about what you get when you throw your support to Sanders: a hard-working man of the people who will fight for the underdog with ever fiber of his being.

As for the Republicans and their exhaustive voter suppression efforts, making Donald Trump the nominee might just be the ultimate suppression tool.


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More